Author Topic: Feature requests  (Read 2616 times)

petermora

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Feature requests
« on: January 15, 2017, 03:55:38 PM »
Hi,

I've been playing a while with T2Laser. Let me share some of my requests/bug reports:

1. The red color in the DXF file means 80% of the laser. However, the laser is non-linear (sometimes the good range is between 232-255), therefore having only 80% is somewhat limiting. If I use the scale (setting the minimum and the maximum range), then only the maximum value has effect. That is, setting the minimum to 100, the maximum to 200, the 80% will be 80%*200 and not 100+80%*(200-100). It would be great if I could enter the exact number for each colors.

2. I couldn't find any way to improve the PWM-s speed. With the current setup I can see the dots, where the laser was turned on. The firmware is 1.1e, the software is T2Laser V1.3t. If it helps, I could measure my current frequency (I know the speed, and I can count the dots with a magnifier). The motivation is that I could have a real grayscale (which I can see if I have full laser with higher speed), but I can see dots now.

3. If the origin is the upper left (and not the lower left), then the laser is turned off in "Trace frame (Laser OFF)". My workflow: I'm setting the strength to 5, and trace the frame to see whether I'm about to cut the right area.

4. It would be great if all the hidden key/mouse clicks/logics would be hinted. For example I had no idea that the right click on the speed icon does something. Please have a hint in the hover string (which is visible when I leave the mouse over the button). Also, please write the keyboard shortcuts next to the menu items (for example if I can submit the G-code with letter G, then please write "Load G-Code (G)" in the menu).

5.There are a lot of questions (generate G-code, save G-code, trace frame), would it be possible to add a "remember my choice checkbox"? I always have the same answer to these questions.

Thank you,
 Peter

Zax

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2017, 04:53:06 PM »
Thank you for the feedback and suggestions, you make some good points.

1. Yes, I agree this can be improved. I will add it to my list for the next version. v1.3u has a "DXF Color to Feed Rate" option which uses the same % of feed rate, so I need to figure out the best method.

2. I'm not sure I follow, are you using grey scale mode? If so you shouldn't have dots as it is a continuous line with on-the-fly changes to power or speed depending on the settings. Dithered will be generating dots and you can de-focus the laser slightly to blend the dots.

3. Trace Frame is supposed to have the laser off, if you want the laser on you need to use Engrave Frame (set the manual power level to 5).

4. I am currently working on documentation, and one thing I am putting together is a list of shortcuts. There are a lot, most are documented in the manual (some aren't). There are several reasons I don't have them on the tooltips (those labels that appear when you hover over), but I will see what I can do. The menu items do display any shortcut commands.

5. There is an option called "silent mode" in the advanced settings menu that uses the defaults instead of asking, it doesn't remember your choices but it may work. It was added in v1.3u.

I just completed a rewrite of the frame code. It's much improved and can now be displayed on the simulation "view" along with the origin. The G-code header also includes this information to help when you reload.

I appreciate your inputs and hope I can make changes that meet your expectations.

petermora

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2017, 10:51:51 PM »
Hi Zax,

 Thank you for the detailed answer.

1. I can't wait for this :) More useless info: I want to cut a cube net from a thick paper (just google for "cube net" if it is unclear), the folding edges will have a different color. I'll create it in Inkscape, and it will be glueless: I'll cut out pieces from the middle of some folding edges, and there will be parts which will be just fit in.

2. I'm using grey scale mode with 700 mm/min speed. The power is changed based on the brightness of the picture. However, I can still see the dots on the wood. It looks like the frequency of the PWM is slow (by the time the laser is turned ON again, it has already moved a bit). I did some preliminary calculation, and it looked like the PWM frequency is below 1kHz, while people on this forum were talking about several kHz. I'll do the proper calculation. De-focusing the laser decreases the resolution, so I'm still playing with other parameters as long as I have hope.

3. I see. I'm using the right part of the GUI to overwrite the power, and I'm not clicking in the menu to force it. Currently the Trace Frame leaves the weak power on if I'm using the Trace Frame (but only if the original position is top left). I know that I have a lot of requests, so feel free to ignore these. However, for my workflow the following button would help: it would set the laser to 5, and show the boundary with 2000mm/min speed.

4. I'm happy to test anything, if that's helping.

5. Please let me know if this version is available. UPDATE: Ignore this, I started to read the forum and I found the link.

Thanks,
  Peter
« Last Edit: January 16, 2017, 12:15:45 AM by petermora »

Zax

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2017, 05:13:43 AM »
1. Cube nets are fun, I've cut one before but didn't know it had a name.

2. Grbl supports 4 different frequencies 62.5kHz, 7.8kHz, 1.96kHz and 0.98kHz. These must be set in config.h before you compile the hex. I am using 0.98kHz as it matches what J-Tech firmware used. I tested 7.8kHz and didn't notice any improvement (or any difference at all) with the 2W TTL laser I have. I am still surprised you are seeing "dots" though, as the constant current drivers are usually slower to react.

3. The laser should not be on with Trace frame (that's a firmware or board issue). I know you said you're using the correct manual laser setting but just to be sure I've attached an example, then right click the laser ON icon or choose Engrave Frame (Laser ON) from the Machine menu and it will do what you expect. This is the correct method.

4. The "hover" text is a problem for international language support due to a bug in the .Net version I am using. There are workarounds but they take more coding than I wanted to spend on it, but I agree in principal and will review it again.

5.  ;)

FYI: The next version is well under way and I will include as many suggestions as possible.

petermora

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 01:52:18 PM »
Hi Zax,

 Thank you for the detailed answers. Let me extend my previous points. I'm now using T2Laser 1.3u with 1.1e firmware.

1. I play a lot with power and speed for each material. Personally I would prefer an extra window where I could enter the power and the speed for each DXF colors. With the current version's 20% steps I'll probably overburn a little bit the cuts just to have the perfect folding edge (or use regex to replace codes). I understand that I want to use your engraving tool for cutting, and I could use BenCutLaser, but I started to get familiar with the interface.

2. I made an experiment. On MDF wood with 800mm/min I can count roughly 40-44 small dots/cm. This is visible with bare eyes (however, I used a microscope to count it properly). That's 1/(10/800*60/40)=53Hz (explanation: it takes 10/800*60 seconds to take 1 cm, which contains roughly 40 dots). This is much less than the mentioned frequencies (62.5kHz, 7.8kHz, 1.96kHz and 0.98kHz). As far as I understand we turn on and off the laser very fast in PWM mode. If we want to have, let's say (just for the sake of the example, I know that it is non-linear), 50%, then is it ON, OFF, ON, OFF, etc? Or is it ON for 128 steps, then OFF for 128 steps? How does it encodes the strength? Do I miss a 255 or 1000 multiplier to get one of your frequencies? I believe that this problem is not MDF wood specific, because if I have 255 power + slightly higher speed, then the result is simply nice grey (and not dotted). Could you recommend a different firmware for testing?

3. My laser is on in Trace frame, but only if I turned it on in advance (I'm usually use 5 to see the boundaries). I'm happy with this :) If I click on the Engrave Frame, then it uses the full power (actually the power which is set in the previous window). This is not a problem, I'm happy with the current setup.

4. I'm constantly learning and forgetting tricks. In the previous post you mentioned that right click on laser ON has a special meaning. I think that more hints would be helpful, I'm not sure how, though. For comparison, I don't remember anything from Blender (which is full of very efficient shortcuts), but in 3dStudioMax it's always easy to draw a box.

I found some more points, I hope you don't mind.

6. How can I add/remove Profiles? Also when I updated from 1.3t to 1.3u (by uninstalling as suggested in the forum), and I lost all my previous profiles.

7. (I don't recall which version I used, sorry) In the Controller window I set the laser power to 250, then clicked on Machine->"Override Laser Power". The background of the 250 number became red. Then I changed the number to 5 (the background was still red), started to Engrave Frame, but it still used 250 instead of 5. It burned a rectangle. This makes sense in hindsight, however, it surprised me a lot, because the red background suggested that now I have a connection: that I could overriding the laser power with the input field without any further clicks on Machine->"Override Laser Power".

8. I can move the laser by hand in the Controller window when T2Laser is not using it. I'm not sure whether this is good, or bad. I'm always afraid that it moves a bit if I'm doing several rounds separately, or I can accidentally bump it. Would it be possible to have a switch to lock the laser's position?

Thanks,
  Peter

ggallant571

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 02:42:27 PM »
Withe regard to 8, moving the laser by hand. When idle the stepper motor drivers are disabled. This removes the holding force which in turn reduces the current thru the drivers and motors. This is good feature most of the time. Sometimes I want the laser to stay positioned. When you manually turn the stepper motor it will act as a generator and back feed a voltage into the driver board. They can tolerate some (I don't have a spec). I am quite sure rotating at 600RPM would be bad.
SARCASM - Just one more service we offer here.

Zax

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 03:21:35 PM »
1. Done. You can set the % change for each step, excluding the last one (yellow) which is always min power or rapid feed rate.

2. The frequency doesn't change. What changes is the amount of time within the pulse that the laser is on, also called the duty cycle. http://benboxlaser.us/index.php/topic,113.msg15537.html#msg15537

3. I'm glad you have a solution but I don't understand, engrave frame uses the power set in the manual laser box.

4. I've added tool tips (hover text) for the right click functions and will be publishing a shortcut guide soon.

6. Click to load a preset profile, set parameters and then right click on the profile to edit the name and save settings. They are stored in a text file that can be found in the install folder (it is not supposed to get removed when you uninstall).

7. I can't replicate that, the engrave frame has nothing to do with the override. Override is a quick way to edit the G-code and replace the power or feed rates, basically a regex although there's slightly more to it.

8. Moving the axis by hand isn't recommended (yes, I do it all the time too). If you move it slowly you'll probably be OK but it still has the potential to damage the drivers (they're only a couple of bucks to replace). If you want the motors to remain energized you can select "Hold Position" in the settings menu. If your current isn't correctly setup the driver and motors will get hot and something will fail, most likely the driver unless you've added heat sinks and a fan.

The new version will be out soon with the changes mentioned in #1 and #4 above.

petermora

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 04:08:43 PM »
Thank you, Zax!

Zax

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2017, 04:32:20 PM »
You're welcome, and thank you for your suggestions.

T2Laser is constantly being updated with new features, many of which come from existing users.

petermora

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2017, 11:55:15 PM »
It's a wonderful software! Yesterday I printed a carton box from the free pack of cartonus.com (a linux version of Inkscape could convert from EPS to DXF), and I could build it! I used the colors to control the feed rate: the blue (40%) cut, the black (100%) made the folding edges. It has been folding flawlessly.

One more suggestion, if you don't mind. I could imagine some templates built in the program to help calibration. These are only files which are easy to load, but I use them so heavily, that they might be part of your program. What I have in my mind:
- calibrating the power for engraving a photo (a greyscale image going from 0% to 100% black with 10% steps)
- calibrating the resolution (several smaller squares filled with lines, with 0.2, 0.18, 0.16, etc. distance from each other). This could help to find the right resolution for engraving a photo, also could help checking the focus.
- calibrating speed for cutting (one straight line for each color).

Two more things which looks easy to do.
- I was about to cut a DXF file, when I accidentally clicked on the Open icon. I pressed ESC to get back, but the previous file was gone. I would guess that this is just changing the order of some code lines to fix this.
- All of my friends are asking about the time: how much time does it takes to cut this? I know that the duration is logged at the end. However, a live stopwatch would be great.

I'll keep playing with my PWM issue. The oscilloscopes chart shows much higher frequency what I can see on the wood. I'll change everything (speed, power) to see how this behavior scales.

Thanks,
  Peter

Zax

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Re: Feature requests
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2017, 04:44:25 AM »
I like the idea of including "test" files, I use several all the time so will add those.

It shows an estimated time BEFORE you start, which is accurate if you're using my firmware and haven't changed any of the settings (acceleration etc.). I will look at keeping that updated as the file is processed, as a side note, I sure wish my 3D printer would do that so I can relate.

Fixed the open sequence so if it fails or you cancel it will not change anything, as you said, simple but thanks for the feedback.

Have you tried using a different material in case it's the MDF causing these "dots"?

« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 04:49:22 AM by Zax »